Thanks to the foresight of Singapore's pioneer leaders, women here have made great strides over the last 50 years, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu yesterday.
Founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, among others, was astute regarding the importance of women to society, and had laid a robust foundation to protect their rights and welfare, added Ms Fu, who chairs the People's Action Party (PAP) Women's Wing.
But more can still be done, she said, calling on her group to improve the well-being of women in need, support women in their career and family aspirations, and help them plan for their retirement.
"We have contributed to all aspects of Singapore's development - at home, in businesses, science and the arts, and in the security of our nation, and will continue to do so in the years ahead," she said to more than 330 women activists and Members of Parliament at the third annual conference of the PAP Women's Wing.
Noting the group's recommendations that had influenced government policy, such as its call to introduce paternity leave, Ms Fu pledged to continue to focus on advocacy to ensure that "the voices of women from all walks of life are heard".
In recent years, the group has submitted policy proposals to the Government on marriage and parenthood, women in the workplace, and ageing.
Ms Fu said that in the coming years, more can be done to address the changing needs and aspirations of different groups of women.
For women in need, such as those with low income, Ms Fu said it is important to intervene earlier to help those who are struggling to take care of their families.
More support should also be given to single parents, many of whom are single due to divorce, she added.
To help working women realise their career and family aspirations, Ms Fu said men should be encouraged to take up more parental responsibilities at home. She also called on employers to recognise "progressive" practices like flexi-work arrangements.
Pointing out that only 8.8 per cent of directors in listed companies are women, she stressed the need for more representation of women in leadership roles, to "help us to better leverage the breadth and depth of talent available".
And on retirement adequacy, Ms Fu called on the group to actively reach out to homemakers to encourage them to take advantage of programmes such as SkillsFuture, which promotes lifelong upgrading of skills.
The Women's Wing yesterday launched a new public education programme called Top Up With Love to help improve financial literacy and awareness of retirement schemes. It will start in July.
"As members of the PAP Women's Wing, we play a crucial role in mobilising women to help other Singaporean women reach their full potential," said Ms Fu at the conference held at the Grand Park City Hall Hotel.
"Let us continue to forge the path forward to maximise opportunities for women, ensure their perspectives are heard, and leverage their unique talents to build an even better Singapore."
This article was first published on Apr 19, 2015.
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